For online degree programs seeking a U.S. News & World Report ranking, now is the time to act.
On Tuesday, U.S. News launched its online statistical surveys, which are used to compute the 2014 Best Online Programs rankings of distance education bachelor's degree programs and master's degree programs. The master's programs cover business, computer information technology, education, engineering and nursing.
Following last year's process, Ipsos Public Affairs will soon administer peer assessment surveys in each area.
Since publishing our first numeric rankings of online distance education programs in January 2013 – and offering badge eligibility for our higher-ranked programs – many schools have inquired about how they can be included in future editions. We recommend they complete and submit the statistical questionnaires at the next opportunity.
If you work at a regionally accredited institution that did not receive a questionnaire for any of its online programs, please email us each contact's name, title, email address and phone number. Remember that U.S. News only collects nursing, engineering and computer information technology statistical data from schools that also have program-level accreditation.
We also ask that you please contact us if these surveys are not being sent to the correct people within your institution and include the correct person's contact information.
The following is a partial list of changes to the 2014 questionnaires:
• Nursing programs with in-person attendance requirements for clinical labs are eligible for the rankings and instructed to report data.
• The definition of computer information technology programs has been expanded to include master's degrees in information systems, information technology and software engineering in addition to computer engineering and computer science. Respondents are instructed to report aggregated data on all these distance education programs in order to be assessed for a ranking.
• All questions on graduate debt are modified to conform to Common Data Set wording. Furthermore, schools are asked to separately report recent graduates' total borrowing for all sources and their borrowing using federal programs.
• The undergraduate questionnaires' definition of retention has been modified to include all new entrants who graduated in addition to those who re-enrolled within one year of first enrollment. This amended wording accounts for the degree completion nature of many of these programs.
• Questions have been added to measure the size of programs' veteran and active service member student populations.
• The separate peer assessment surveys of online master's degree programs now include all schools that reported in IPEDS's 2011-2012 Completions Survey awarding distance education degrees in those disciplines. Unique schools listed in U.S. News' 2013 directory of online degree programs are also included.
The five master's level disciplines being surveyed have not been changed. We will continue researching the possibility of expanding these rankings in future years.